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Bourjaily: Gas Guns for More Doves

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August 28, 2009

Bourjaily: Gas Guns for More Doves

By Phil Bourjaily

I once mentioned to a southerner that in Iowa where I live, mourning doves are protected songbirds.* “Ain’t worth livin’ there,” he said. Every year, on September 1, I think he might be right. Unless I manage a trip out of state, I am stuck on the sidelines for the biggest opening day of the season, rooting for all of you who are lucky enough to live where doves can be hunted.

Just because I don’t get to shoot doves every year doesn’t mean I don’t think about dove guns in August.

While I prefer two barreled guns for upland hunting, I don’t like getting caught by a suicidal bird bearing down on me when I’ve got a break-action gun broken open to reload.

And, I love pumps for waterfowling but in the dove field, working the slide pulls me off target for follow-ups.

That leaves semiautomatics, especially gas guns. Their soft recoil, rapid follow-ups and ease of reloading make them perfect for the job.  In this picture, taken five years ago in Argentina, I’m shooting a 20 gauge Beretta 391 with an Improved Cylinder choke tube, which I would call an ideal dove gun.

You may notice the bird boy has the look of someone who has seen plenty of Yankees shoot and is not over-awed by yours truly. Most of the doves were high and tricky that day, flying above the treetops in twos and threes. However, not long after this picture was taken, a huge bunch came very low and fast over the stubble.  I shot three with three shots, then thumbed two more shells into the gun and took another pair before the flock passed out of range. ** The jaded bird boy blurted something like: “i Holy *@&!”

Frankly, I was pretty impressed myself.

Good luck to all of you who are opening the season Tuesday.  What will you be taking to the dove field?

*we owe the dove’s ongoing protected status to in Iowa to former governor Tom Vilsack, who, back in 2001, indicated to sportsmen he would sign a dove hunting bill, only to veto it a few days later. Vilsack is now your Secretary of Agriculture, by the way.

** If you were wondering, we ate a lot of grilled dove while we were down there, and I brought back a big cooler-full.

Comments (36)

Top Rated
All Comments
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Didn't the fair citizens of Iowa caucus for The Annointed One in your ludicrous caucuses last year?

Why should you expect better? Vote yourselves in a mess of Democrats and see how things "Change"! LMAO

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mjenkins1 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

20ga Remington 11-87. Props on your 20ga support Mr. Bourjaily.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jason Norris wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I will be taking a 20gauge Montfeltro for most of the season.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

"In Iowa where I live, mourning doves are protected songbirds." Must be a communist or at least demoncratic state. Isn't dove hunting in the Bill of Rights? 1100 12 gauge
with 26" modified gets it done for the last 35 years or so.
PS Phil, if you can't get out of state this year, you at least have my sympathy!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Ye gads man, no dove opener! Utter nonsense. Didn't know you had that many city folk in Iowa? I guess one doesn't miss what one doesn't know... Left hand, 12 Ga 1100.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Teodoro wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Too poor to have a 20 auto just for doves and clays and whatnot. I'll be hoisting an 870 this year, I think, but at least I'll have something to hoist.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Ima use a double this year. It has ejectors, so it reloads quickly. I'll miss opening day but will be out on the 3rd for doves. I'm pretty sure there will be plenty left. ;)

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from MB915 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I will be taking my 870 to the field as well. Not a hard decision when that is the only shotgun I won.

Cant wait to wrap some bacon on some doves and cook them up.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Just found and captured a lefty Remington 1100 this week. This will be my first season with a true lefty gun. I'll shoot a few in your honor, PB.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

sgaredneck-
I neglected to mention in my previous post, mine is also left handed, and you will find it is indeed a pleasure to use a gun made for people who shoot that way. Too bad most of the major gun makers don't see it that way.
Savage is an exception, but mostly in rifles.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Probably will take Benellis. The dove hunting in Wyoming is unlike the south in that a cool snap in the next few days, although not predicted, could send every bird winging southward. Consequently some years dove shooting here leaves a lot to be desired. However I am comparing it to my younger days in the south when the sky was sometimes temporarily dark with doves passig over or rising from various grain or sunflower fields. A proper Wyoming dove season would start mid-August but that will never happen.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Franchi Veloce 20 gauge with Skeet & Modified tubes. Since you can't hunt them in Iowa, chase a few across the River to Illinois for me. Waving a big picture of Petzal should scare the birds this way.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bernie wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I haven't hunted doves in 35 years, but my wife and I were invited to shoot at a place near Billings, MT next week. I will use a Model 12 in 16 gauge, she will carry a Model 1100 in 16 gauge. We'll use 1-ounce No. 7-1/2 Federals that I bought 20+ years ago.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

crm3006,
Mine's a 2 3/4, 26" improved cylinder that looks like time stood still. I haven't dated it but I was assuming mid 70's. Got it with the box and everything. I don't think this is as good as finding a '68 Shelby in a barn but it's a good one none the less.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

sgaredneck-
Glad you are the one that found it, know you will use it well and appreciate it! Good shooting.
crm

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I'm gonna try and make it out w/ my old Beretta A303. Come a little South Phil and shoot some Missouri doves with me.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Here in South Alabama we've still got several weeks before dove season opens. I'll stick with the same 12 ga. Belgian made Browing superposed I've been shooting since 1962---I'm about to get used to it by now. I've shot autoloaders but, for me, that third shot is mostly just to let the dove know whose side I'm on.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I'll be using my Benelli M2 in 12ga. We'll be fishing walleye's in the morning and shooting doves in the evening. Afterwards we'll be having a feast for kings and preparing to do it all over again the next day!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Jones wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

"I've shot autoloaders but, for me, that third shot is mostly just to let the dove know whose side I'm on."

I love it!

I'll likely use my 20 ga 870 but would like to have a sweet little 20ga SXS. I let a little Stevens get away from me 30 years ago (something to do with I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with it - barrels must have been bent)

Dove hunting is a strictly social event priming us for the more serious hunts in the fall. We recall the "trick" shots more than who shot how many. Year before last I shot a dove coming straight in and then caught the falling bird in my hat. The kids remember that and the grilled dove more than who limited out.

Besides, dove hunting is about selling shotgun shells!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Verona 692LX 28ga. with 30" barrels and skeet and modified chokes installed. I agree with the gas auto for high volume dove shooting, but my opening day will be a waterhole shoot with mojo decoys bringing them in close. I can pick my shots. The next weekend will be a fund raising dove competition of 100 shooters. One box of shells per hunter, the champions being the one with a limit with the fewest shells and the quickest limit. That will be a Remington 11-87 12 ga. Sporting with 26" barrel and diffusion choke day.
Michael

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

My dove and quail gun is a Beretta Silver Pigeon 28 ga O/U. If you click my name there is a picture of a teenage kid named Wesley shooting that gun at clay pigeons last week. It's light as a feather and much fun to shoot. If it takes more than 2 shots the dove won fair and square.

Beekeeper, You could call Rick and see if he wants to meet you for a dove shoot. He is outstanding on Pheasants and quail. I've never seen him shoot doves though.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clem Snide wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Phil, come down South to hunt. Have fun, kill lots of birds, and take another Yankee back home with you when you go!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhope wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

sorry for me its my 870 for everything
all i have to do is change out chokes

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I'm with Del, I'll be using a double and if that aint enough, the dove wins, and I save a little money. I surely won't be using a 28, though. Props to those who do. Mine is a 20.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chris Carpenter wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

September 1st is a holiday in Missouri and in the SW corner where I live is a clear definition of that. For 7 years straight I've mysteriously had a doctors appointment on Sept. 1st. (Weird Huh) Anyways i use a New England Firearms 20 gauge single shot.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jtboles wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

If I was able to go tuesday I would be carrying my Grandfathers 20ga. Browning humpback auto-5

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from libertyfirst wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

No dove season here in Maine. I don't know why either because there are doves everyplace. I could shoot dozens standing in my driveway!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from libertyfirst wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

No dove season here in Maine. I don't know why either because there are doves everyplace. I could shoot dozens standing in my driveway!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elmer f. wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

typical politician, if his lips are moving, he (or she) is lying.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from LutherMartin1517 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I never heard of a state where doves were protected that wasn't Dumbocrat. Proof that Dems are stupid.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from coreyHuntsTrophys wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

good shooting man....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Armchair Mike wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

12 ga. Brno sxs non-ejector and a 12 ga. Browning Auto-5 that I will try to leave in the case. The Browning is for "insurance" if I embarrass myself too badly with the double.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bonedoc33 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Beretta 391 as well. By the way, here is my favorite dove recipe: debone the breasts, cut jalapenos in half and remove the seeds, fill the pepper halves with cream cheese, lay the peppers (cheese side down) on the breasts, wrap them with bacon and grill them. We make ourselves sick on them every September at our hunting lease.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I will be using my late son's Winchester Mod 1400 semi. 23/4" chambers and it will only hold 3 shells but it shoots well.
Here in NC opening day of dove season (Sept. 5th) is a tradition. I previously used a 20 gauge Remington LW 1100 (the early lightweight versions were designated LW-1100 prior to the LT-1100 designation) before I sold it to purchase the said Winchester for my son and a Mossberg pump for myself.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from spartan235 wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

This is definitly true. Last year used and my 835 and then had a chance to use my friends SBEII for a while. It was much easier to make that second shot if needed.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Probably my favorite all time game dish besides venison italian sausage would be bacon rapped dove breasts. Probably some of the best game I have ever tasted.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Ye gads man, no dove opener! Utter nonsense. Didn't know you had that many city folk in Iowa? I guess one doesn't miss what one doesn't know... Left hand, 12 Ga 1100.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jason Norris wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I will be taking a 20gauge Montfeltro for most of the season.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

"In Iowa where I live, mourning doves are protected songbirds." Must be a communist or at least demoncratic state. Isn't dove hunting in the Bill of Rights? 1100 12 gauge
with 26" modified gets it done for the last 35 years or so.
PS Phil, if you can't get out of state this year, you at least have my sympathy!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Ima use a double this year. It has ejectors, so it reloads quickly. I'll miss opening day but will be out on the 3rd for doves. I'm pretty sure there will be plenty left. ;)

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from MB915 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I will be taking my 870 to the field as well. Not a hard decision when that is the only shotgun I won.

Cant wait to wrap some bacon on some doves and cook them up.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Here in South Alabama we've still got several weeks before dove season opens. I'll stick with the same 12 ga. Belgian made Browing superposed I've been shooting since 1962---I'm about to get used to it by now. I've shot autoloaders but, for me, that third shot is mostly just to let the dove know whose side I'm on.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Jones wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

"I've shot autoloaders but, for me, that third shot is mostly just to let the dove know whose side I'm on."

I love it!

I'll likely use my 20 ga 870 but would like to have a sweet little 20ga SXS. I let a little Stevens get away from me 30 years ago (something to do with I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with it - barrels must have been bent)

Dove hunting is a strictly social event priming us for the more serious hunts in the fall. We recall the "trick" shots more than who shot how many. Year before last I shot a dove coming straight in and then caught the falling bird in my hat. The kids remember that and the grilled dove more than who limited out.

Besides, dove hunting is about selling shotgun shells!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from libertyfirst wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

No dove season here in Maine. I don't know why either because there are doves everyplace. I could shoot dozens standing in my driveway!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

sgaredneck-
I neglected to mention in my previous post, mine is also left handed, and you will find it is indeed a pleasure to use a gun made for people who shoot that way. Too bad most of the major gun makers don't see it that way.
Savage is an exception, but mostly in rifles.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Probably will take Benellis. The dove hunting in Wyoming is unlike the south in that a cool snap in the next few days, although not predicted, could send every bird winging southward. Consequently some years dove shooting here leaves a lot to be desired. However I am comparing it to my younger days in the south when the sky was sometimes temporarily dark with doves passig over or rising from various grain or sunflower fields. A proper Wyoming dove season would start mid-August but that will never happen.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bernie wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I haven't hunted doves in 35 years, but my wife and I were invited to shoot at a place near Billings, MT next week. I will use a Model 12 in 16 gauge, she will carry a Model 1100 in 16 gauge. We'll use 1-ounce No. 7-1/2 Federals that I bought 20+ years ago.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

crm3006,
Mine's a 2 3/4, 26" improved cylinder that looks like time stood still. I haven't dated it but I was assuming mid 70's. Got it with the box and everything. I don't think this is as good as finding a '68 Shelby in a barn but it's a good one none the less.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

sgaredneck-
Glad you are the one that found it, know you will use it well and appreciate it! Good shooting.
crm

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I'll be using my Benelli M2 in 12ga. We'll be fishing walleye's in the morning and shooting doves in the evening. Afterwards we'll be having a feast for kings and preparing to do it all over again the next day!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Verona 692LX 28ga. with 30" barrels and skeet and modified chokes installed. I agree with the gas auto for high volume dove shooting, but my opening day will be a waterhole shoot with mojo decoys bringing them in close. I can pick my shots. The next weekend will be a fund raising dove competition of 100 shooters. One box of shells per hunter, the champions being the one with a limit with the fewest shells and the quickest limit. That will be a Remington 11-87 12 ga. Sporting with 26" barrel and diffusion choke day.
Michael

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

My dove and quail gun is a Beretta Silver Pigeon 28 ga O/U. If you click my name there is a picture of a teenage kid named Wesley shooting that gun at clay pigeons last week. It's light as a feather and much fun to shoot. If it takes more than 2 shots the dove won fair and square.

Beekeeper, You could call Rick and see if he wants to meet you for a dove shoot. He is outstanding on Pheasants and quail. I've never seen him shoot doves though.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhope wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

sorry for me its my 870 for everything
all i have to do is change out chokes

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chris Carpenter wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

September 1st is a holiday in Missouri and in the SW corner where I live is a clear definition of that. For 7 years straight I've mysteriously had a doctors appointment on Sept. 1st. (Weird Huh) Anyways i use a New England Firearms 20 gauge single shot.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Didn't the fair citizens of Iowa caucus for The Annointed One in your ludicrous caucuses last year?

Why should you expect better? Vote yourselves in a mess of Democrats and see how things "Change"! LMAO

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mjenkins1 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

20ga Remington 11-87. Props on your 20ga support Mr. Bourjaily.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Teodoro wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Too poor to have a 20 auto just for doves and clays and whatnot. I'll be hoisting an 870 this year, I think, but at least I'll have something to hoist.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Just found and captured a lefty Remington 1100 this week. This will be my first season with a true lefty gun. I'll shoot a few in your honor, PB.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Franchi Veloce 20 gauge with Skeet & Modified tubes. Since you can't hunt them in Iowa, chase a few across the River to Illinois for me. Waving a big picture of Petzal should scare the birds this way.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I'm gonna try and make it out w/ my old Beretta A303. Come a little South Phil and shoot some Missouri doves with me.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clem Snide wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Phil, come down South to hunt. Have fun, kill lots of birds, and take another Yankee back home with you when you go!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I'm with Del, I'll be using a double and if that aint enough, the dove wins, and I save a little money. I surely won't be using a 28, though. Props to those who do. Mine is a 20.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jtboles wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

If I was able to go tuesday I would be carrying my Grandfathers 20ga. Browning humpback auto-5

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from libertyfirst wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

No dove season here in Maine. I don't know why either because there are doves everyplace. I could shoot dozens standing in my driveway!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elmer f. wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

typical politician, if his lips are moving, he (or she) is lying.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from LutherMartin1517 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I never heard of a state where doves were protected that wasn't Dumbocrat. Proof that Dems are stupid.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from coreyHuntsTrophys wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

good shooting man....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bonedoc33 wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

Beretta 391 as well. By the way, here is my favorite dove recipe: debone the breasts, cut jalapenos in half and remove the seeds, fill the pepper halves with cream cheese, lay the peppers (cheese side down) on the breasts, wrap them with bacon and grill them. We make ourselves sick on them every September at our hunting lease.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from spartan235 wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

This is definitly true. Last year used and my 835 and then had a chance to use my friends SBEII for a while. It was much easier to make that second shot if needed.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Armchair Mike wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

12 ga. Brno sxs non-ejector and a 12 ga. Browning Auto-5 that I will try to leave in the case. The Browning is for "insurance" if I embarrass myself too badly with the double.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I will be using my late son's Winchester Mod 1400 semi. 23/4" chambers and it will only hold 3 shells but it shoots well.
Here in NC opening day of dove season (Sept. 5th) is a tradition. I previously used a 20 gauge Remington LW 1100 (the early lightweight versions were designated LW-1100 prior to the LT-1100 designation) before I sold it to purchase the said Winchester for my son and a Mossberg pump for myself.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Probably my favorite all time game dish besides venison italian sausage would be bacon rapped dove breasts. Probably some of the best game I have ever tasted.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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